It is the Sunday night of Memorial Day.

I haven’t attended a cookout, gone swimming, attended a concert, or had dinner with family.

To be honest, I don’t like much of the food that is eaten is cookouts, other than corn, and it’s too cold to swim. Taylor Swift was last weekend, I need to get over it.

My daugher just blocked me on Instagram, she’s nineteen and she had warned me she wasn’t going to let me follow her. But she did, and then two days later, she didn’t.

My husband spent most of the weekend talking about buying a lawnmower and is now working so he can pay for the lawnmower he bought for our tiny, tiny back yard.

My son answered my afternoon group text where I announced I was turning off my phone for a little downtime to ask me why.

He probably still likes me because he is a thousand miles away, so I don’t expect much from him.

On these three day holiday weekends, I want to play frisbee with a large group who knows me well and doesn’t mind that I’m not that good. I want to sleep in late, stay up late and not be the one to do the dishes, unless, the dishes are at someone else’s house, (I’d like to make it clear I am an excellent houseguest because I’m coming across here as kind of a jerk).

I want my challenge to be finding the summer placemats and getting the kids to put away their laundry.

But we aren’t part of large family, and none of us can throw frisbee farther than twenty feet, except Colin. He’d rather throw a football and is currently, like I said, far away.

I like to get up early, I don’t mind doing dishes with the radio on. Besides, it’s just me there aren’t many dishes.

I think life is harder now, than it was, years ago. Or maybe it just feels that way, tonight, on the cusp of summer. Maybe because it’s a holiday weekend, and there’s pressure to have something to say when when someone asks me at work on Tuesday morning- “what did you do?”

I’m not sure what’s coming next, except that if I don’t walk the dogs soon, they will wait patiently until I am ready. I really, really, really like dogs.

Tomorrow, I need to take a ride to the beach, hop on my bike, or head over to the Ponkapoag Pond in the morning. I have a whole day left, and I’m sure as hell not going to spend it negotiating with Katy regarding social media or nagging Sheldon about a lawn mower.

Well, I could, but I won’t, because I did that today.

Life is short. I can do better.


I wanted to follow up about yesterday, the event detailed above when at 1 pm, Katy, a newcomer to Instagram at the age of nineteen years old and all around wonderful human, blocked me.

That funk resulted in a cookie binge, a shower that consumed all the hot water of East Milton and an entire bottle of lavendar calm body wash, (no help at all) and a google search about the cost of living in St Croix, because I went there with my parents when I was twelve and had a delightful time.

I am happy to share, I have been reinstated. It was all a minor misunderstanding which if I tried to explain, I’d probably get blocked again.

And today, I’ve done better.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday in May.

May 22, 2023

It is the middle of May, The air is warm. The sky says close to sunset; the dogs have been fed and are barking at a child on a scooter.

This afternoon there were no birthdays or trips to Shaw’s Market, though we should have done something about the lawn.

There have been three walks around the block twisted in leashes and clutching small bags, a trip to Marshalls to buy a belt with my dear friend, Chris, a long shower, and maybe a face mask when I’m done here at the table. I’ve chosen my clothes for the morning, I’ve packed up my lunch for tomorrow afternoon.

I’m moving slow on a Sunday night because I truly believe I am ready for Monday.

My daughter is home from college, but she’s out for the night. My husband is working. The dogs have stopped barking and in an hour they’ll be looking at me and then looking downstairs towards my bed.

The washing machine is almost done, I need to remember to switch tomorrow’s skirt to the dryer. I need to remember to check in on my friend to make sure she made it home safe to New Jersey. I need to check the calendar for my next dentist’s appointment so I can ask for the time off from work.

I’m moving slow on a Sunday because I am ready for Monday, and everything else that is heading my way.

It is the middle of May. The air is warm and just outside my front door, I smell peonies and lavendar. There is an evening ahead, and hours and hours before morning comes.

Ch ch ch changes

May 13, 2023

Recently, the face of my Apple watch switched, from rotating photos taken over the years to a black, white, and red, cartoon of Mickey Mouse. At random times, Mickey will crow the time in a squeaky, strange, Mickey Mouse voice. This doesn’t happen often; so far he hasn’t interrupted a zoom call at work, or my sleep, but it’s something I need to fix.

Sophia, the Most Lovely and Graceful Dog is gone. Chanel, a squat American Bullie, and Bernie, short for Bernadette, a French Bulldog pup, given to us by Colin last week, have been using their time in the garden to hunt for rocks. (Sophia felt time outside was for sunning, barking, and taking treats- she was good at doing all three at the same time. People would bring snacks to our fence and pass them to her, she would daintily accept their gifts and resume barking until they slid another cookie through the posts and so on.)

Nellie and Bernadette spend their time the garden hunting for rocks. Often, one or both will bring the rocks inside so that they can roll around the floor, fighting over treasure. As soon as one of them gets bored, or hears someone go into the kitchen, the rock is no longer desirable. They bark at people, too, Sophia left a legacy.

I need to start wearing slippers at night again, random rocks are almot as bad as stray legos in the middle of the night or anytime, when stepped on by bare toes and feet.

Sophia was dignified and aloof, but would say hello most mornings when she stretched. She’d wag her tail and open her mouth and out would come something like “arrrrrrrrrrr”. Sometimes, I would be permitted to rub her belly, but for the most part, she was done with me until it was time for our cookie party. The tradition continues, but the parties are shorter with Nell and Bernie as guests. Bernie throws up seventy-five percent of the time she eats anything that isn’t dry dog food and Chanel is a little thicker these days.

I’ve been in a funk for the past month. On the longest day, I would walk into joy when my dogs heard the door open.

They’d jump and crawl on my chest, roll around the floor, present me with rocks, stray socks, a fork, and one time a jar of very pricy moisturizer, (not sure how Nell managed to fit it in her mouth, but I was happy to see it).

When I came home to Sophie, she’d nod in my direction, and jump off the sofa so I could let her outside.

I switched smoothies. From chocolate mango almond butter, I’m trying to like green juice, which isn’t half bad if you add some ingredients that aren’t green.

There is only Sheldon and I here; first spring without the backdrop of the high school calendar. Now that I’m used to Katy away at school, she’ll be home on Tuesday night.

Strange spring, this season. I’ve been feeling a little sad for a while, and usually, for years, actually, (with exceptions, of course,) I’m pretty damn happy.

Being sad has felt foreign and heavy in my chest I didn’t talk about it because I couldn’t explain it and I didn’t want to talk about it. Most days, I wanted to go home, go to the gym, and go to bed. Some days, the only time I felt happy was when I was flopped on the sofa with sixty pounds of puppy bouncing around my head.

It occurred to me, tonight, walking at Cunningham, that I felt a little bit better than I have in a while.

I was listening to the new music playlist, I was anticipating an evening of a good book and a good show- “Single Drunk Female”.

It occurred to me that when I’m struggling or even just grouchy, that’s okay.

And if I want to feel better, I don’t need to wait until I look inside my heart to realize it is light and all is right with the world again.

I can listen to more music, go for a swim, tell a friend, spend a day with the dogs, make that new snack on instagram that involves cottage cheese, maple syrup, strawberries, and graham crackers, and a blender.

Being happy can’t always come from the inside.

And sometimes I just need to be sad.

It’s been a strange season, this spring.

I’ll let you know how the cottage cheese/strawberries/graham crackers/ turn out, unless it’s disgusting,

Everything’s gonna be allright.

Well, actually, it already is.



It happened tonight at the gym. It happens all the time when I’m working with high school students, having drinks at bar, walking my dog, watching television.

I feel a tiny wince somewhere in my chest, I wish I was that young. I’d like a do over or a do it all again.

This doesn’t last long. I don’t have the option of wallowing when I’m raising a twelve pound weight over my head, explaining the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans to a seventeen year old, or hanging out with my friends.

We’re all so busy lately. I’m busy, my friends are busy, everyone at work is losing their minds. Some of my colleagues are eating lunch at their desks, staying long after doors lock and sending emails at 2 am Sunday morning. (Not me. I have lunch with my friends, but that’s a different story, because my friends at work are the best.)

Essentially, I have too much going on to dwell on my age, or whatever the hell age I’d like to be.

Tonight, I dwelled.

When I was in high school, I drank Miller Lite behind the bathroom at the Tourne, a park in my hometown. A lot of people did this, I was known for being Rob’s shadow and spent the first six months of our relationship agreeing with everything Rob said, until we’d been together for a few months.

Around this time, I discovered the excruciating joy of passionate arguments in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night, in the snow, barefoot, because whatever the hell we were fighting was so important it couldn’t wait four hour until he picked me up for school. When I wasn’t whipped up and hysterical about Rob, I used my free time to squabble with my mom about why I had to empty the dishwasher when we had a housecleaner, and walk around a lake called Mountain Lake. I didn’t do any homework or play any sports, but it’s obvious, I was quite busy.

During my twenties, I was sad. My father died when I was twenty-two, and although he’d been sick for a while, his loss hit hard. I wasn’t hospitalized; I went to school, held some jobs, went through the motions, but looking back, I see a sad girl who should have been in therapy.

During my thirties, the first thing my brain tells me to write is I had a damn good time. I was on guest lists, went to concerts in limos, stayed up until dawn playing backgammon, and weirdly enough, talking about high school. I shopped. I hung out at the pool on the roofdeck on the Sheridan. I went to Walden Pond whenever my friend was kind enough to take me, and if she wasn’t up for it, I took a cab out to Concord and made the driver wait until I was finished. (I had a collection of cabdrivers that drove me places and brought me food and alcohol when I didn’t want to leave the house or the liquor stores were closing.)

Most nights, when we were out, I’d leave first, and head back to my apartment to wait for my friends to come over after the bars closed. I don’t like waiting in line for the bathroom and crowds make me uncomfortable. The limos were nice, and the concerts were amazing, but mostly, what I remember is trying to locate the limos after the concerts. That was not fun, and often took a very long time. Backgammon is fun, especially when you’re winning, but Walden and winning backgammon games aren’t enough to redeem a decade that, from this angle, looks pretty shallow.

I had children in my forties. I remember trying to hold slippery Kate up in the sink so I could wash her hair, and almost dropping her, because I turned around to look at the clock. I needed to know how many more minutes until I could put her to bed.

I skipped through parts of Lemony Snicket when I was reading to Colin because I wanted to get back downstairs to some tv show.

I loved taking them to the pool but we didn’t go often because of how long it would take to get them in and out of their swimsuits. And sometimes, while they were swimming, they’d need to pee. It was so inconvenient, those three to six minutes of helping my kids get ready to play in the water.

As they grew older, they started to move in another direction. I’d take them to the park, leave my book and phone behind, and they’d meet their friends. We’d go for a hike, and they’d want to turn around after thirty minutes so we could go for pizza.

By the time they were teenagers, I caught glimpses. I memorized conversations and wrote about them on Facebook, not to brag, but so I’d have records. I drove Katy anywhere she wanted to go, just to have time in the car. I tried to connect with Colin, but he started drifting away around age fourteen. The only time we spoke was when he lost something in the laundry, the only real conversations we had were in the car when we were on the way home from the police station.

Now, Colin is twenty-two and Katy is nineteen. Neither one of them live at home, but we talk. Colin tells me about his new apartment and sends pictures of his food all the time; this is a trend I don’t understand. Katy shares stories about frat parties I’m pretty sure not every parent hears, sends pictures of her new haircut, her new chair, her form in deadlift, and lately, has let me listen while she tries to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. Right now, archivist, physical therapist assistant, and media consultant are all on the table. She is also considering archaelogy but I guess the prospects for employment are dismal.

My kids are entirely different, but they pick up the phone when I call. Sometimes I have to call twice and then text, but they pick up.

The only do over I’d like is those fleeting moments when they were really small. I’d sit on the floor with Katy and color, instead of leaving her at the coffee table while I sat at kitchen table on my desktop computer. Colin loved playing with tiny plastic animals, I have no idea what he did with tiny plastic animals, but I wish I knew. I wish I didn’t always rush him off the swings, he loved the swings.

I think most parents go back to wishing they’d had just a little more time giving baths and cutting up vegetables. Maybe that’s why so many want grandchildren; I haven’t gotten there yet.

I’m good with where I am now. I live with a pup who thinks going to bed at nine is almost as much fun as eating cookies.

I work, and eat lunch, with people I like, for students who need my help. I don’t spend a fortune on records, (Spotify!). I like to cook.

I wake up without a hangover; I take my time getting ready because I’ve laid my clothes out the night before.

My kids talk to me, and quite often, when I say something, they listen.

Cancel the do-over.

I need to stop time.

(It’s about a bunch of things I do at the gym and how weird it is I got there.)

I love the gym.

I do strength training with free weights and machines. I jump on the ellipical, jog on the treadmill, row on brand new rowing machine.

I take classes in yoga, barre, boxing, spin, bootcamps, strength, High Intensity Training, and pilates.

I have been religiously going to the gym for years now, and before that, I swam. Before that, I drank too much, and only swam in the afternoon, and before that I went to the gym.

Before all of that, I was required to go to gym class which I hated because I have the coordination of an animal that is dead or in a coma. Except in gym class, where I was forced to try volleyball, tennis and badminton. I had to throw a ball and run a mile for some Presidential Fitness Initiative. If the President had seen my efforts, I’m pretty sure I would have been sent to Canada.

There was dodgeball, where my only goal was to avoid the ball. I was hit by the ball and, as I write, my thigh still stings.

I can’t describe how awkward my body felt running, or how frantic and huge I felt during sports, from first grade to high school.

In my early adulthood, I found my way to the gym.

I am still not particularly coordinated, but can dance the easiest version of the samba and know some pretty sophisticated zumba moves. But no matter how long I continue, I will never be able to twerk- not sure if it’s a combination of coordination or genetics, but I’ve glimpsed myself trying and you won’t ever see me on Tik Tok.

I can lift heavy. I can do box jumps. I can’t jump rope unless it’s imaginary, but I can jump an imagineray rope for five minutes at time if the right song is playing and the volume is high.

My body finds grace in the water, while swimming. On land, I often feel like a little behind, like my moves aren’t as good as everyone elses.

My biceps don’t pop. I need spanx. My jumping jacks look half assed and I’m probably never going to get my body in crow, which I’ve been told is a frame of mind, but really, my elbows are not designed to support my torso.

What I’m trying to say is- don’t wait until New Year’s, your friend discovers the cult of crossfit, your partner proposes, or your pants don’t fit.

If there’s no gym close by, or the budget is tight, check out online. There are walking clubs, people lift milk cartons, their dogs, there are a million ways to strength train without a bench or a barbell. You can climb the stairs or clean the house. One of my friend does her workouts dancing in the kitchen, another swears by qi gong.

Today, I had the day off from work and spent a half an hour on my phone listening to celebrities tell me what they ate in a day while eating chocolate chips from a coffee cup.

I spent a half an hour on the bed talking baby talk to Chanel the The Most Adorable Pup, instead of making the bed. I went to lunch with a friend where we both agreed life sucked. That was fun, until it was time to leave and I realized I’d lost my wallet.

As soon as I walked in the door, I found my favorite tank top on top of the laundry and a pair of shorts.

It was a cardio-strength-stretch class.

I made it in time to fill up my water bottle and then home to write this.

That is two hours I have not spent scrolling for stories about Hailee Bieber, clips of Carpool Karaoke or Saturday Night Live.

I’m still kind of cranky. But not as much as before cardio-strength-stretch.

If I find my wallet, I’ll probably go to bed not pissed off at all.

I am sitting at the kitchen table, which is a different space this year than last, or the year before. Next to my elbow is an empty water bottle, brought home from boot camp, a tiny miracle, (I’ve left so many behind.)

There is my daughter’s cat, Maurice, who is mad and has been mad since last September when Katy left for college. He is a three legged cat, yet surprising lethal with his single front paw. It is hard not to laugh when he attempts to strike with the limb that isn’t there. Katy says she misses him but she only Facetimes with Colin’s puppy, Nell.

There are bits from Sunday’s paper; my husband and I went to Foxwoods for the night. I still haven’t read the travel section, barely glanced at the magazine section and book reviews. I might not get a chance to pick it up; I will throw it into the recycling before I read it.

It is the beginning of April, and I’ve considered putting springtime placemats down on the scarred wood surface.

How many? Only Sheldon and I live here now and when we see people, mostly, we are out. Two placemats at a table for six might look sad.

Maybe I’ll buy a plant.

There is a box of Kleenex, which needs to go by the bed; it’s allergy season. Some deodorant Colin left behind, which smells like twenty three year old young man trying to impress the world. I’m sure he’s replaced it with something more expensive. I should bring it up to his room, but his room still feels strange; he only left a month ago.

There is the napkin holder, and a mismatched collection of polyester and cotton cloths, patterns and solids, ancient and shiny. There is a candle that sits on top of a trivet, I have tried to dig out the wick, it has only been lit once or twice..

There are my headphones, my shiny, pink Beats. I wear them on hikes and listen to them at a volume that makes my Iphone send me strongly worded texts about hearing loss.

Sometimes, the best, the only thing to do is to slide them over my ears. Find a playlist I haven’t heard in a million years, slip into whatever sneakers I find in the top of the bin, and step outside.. I only bring Nelly, my son’s puppy, because Sophie can’t keep up anymore.

And sometimes, it’s best to leave the headphones behind.

Not in front me, but in the next room, about ten feet away lies Sophie, The Sweetest of Dogs, on the rug. Tonight, I’d like to slip the leash on Sophie’s collar, and let her lead me wherever she wants to go. She moves, or she doesn’t. We might not make it half a block. She might decide to nap on the front stoop as soon we step down the stair. That’s fine too.

Just this morning, we heard from the vet. Sophie was diagnosed with kidney disease three years ago and the doctor told it was a miracle she’s still here.

By the end of week, Sophie won’t be in the next room anymore.

On Saturday morning, I will be sitting at this kitchen table, probably looking the Kleenex and the newspaper, the deodorant, and, maybe, Maurice. I will glance into the next room, to the space where Sophie sits right now.

I’m going to go sit down next to her.

Family Vacation

March 20, 2023

The whole time I was on vacation with my mom and step-dad, brother, and two daughters, I was wondering “how am I going to write about this without pissing anyone off?” We were in St. Augustine, Florida, in a townhouse, the six of us, last week. It is a good thing it had three floors and seven bathrooms.

I am the oldest, one of my kids is in college, the other is in California, and only reaches out when he has something exciting to say, like Drake is two tables away from him at a restaurant. I live in Massachusetts and work at a local community college, I know the group exercise schedule at the gym next store by heart, and I try to read books instead of scrolling on Facebook and Instagram. I am very excited about the new season of “Ted Lasso” and neither my brother nor my mom have any interest in checking it out, but I don’t watch “American Idol”, (Mom,) or movies where lots of things blow up, (Jimmy, my brother).

My brother is two years younger than me, and, I think, finds me a bit silly and a little irritating, though he said once I was a talented writer. He is fierce, and Southern. He is funny, brilliant, and a lawyer for the state of Florida. I am not going to say anything else about that because he appreciates his job. He has some health issues, a dog he loves named Charlie, and is the devoted father to two, also brilliant, daughters.

My mom and her husband live in South Carolina. We speak every day on the phone, about Wordle, her bridge game, a recipe, my dog, her cat, the kids, and the weather. She loves to talk about the weather, especially in the winter. I think she’d like me to move there, but there is also an understanding between us that maybe we get on so well because we are rarely in the same room.

We don’t see much of each other. My brother’s schedule and mine rarely aligned because for the past fifteen years, our lives have been defined by when our kids had vacations- my kids and his kids had different weeks off. Mom and Edd were passionate about traveling in an RV for while, then they moved onto cruising. Now, they spend more of their time at home, with their cat, binoculars and a best friend named Sue.

We settled on St. Augustine to meet. Jim’s kids were off of school during my college’s spring break, and Mom found us a beautiful place to stay across from the ocean.

We were there for five days.

Five days, one car, seven people, from three states, three generations, and lots of opinions.

I made dinner reservations, and changed them every night except one.

I went to the gym with my nieces, we hiked through the woods and saw three armadillos. We argued over the definition of greek pizza. We collected shells on the beach, Heather gave me a handful, which I put on my nightstand. We made sandwiches, we toured old downtown St. Augustine, we sat in traffic and bonded over a strong aversion to roundabouts and traffic. (In Mass, they are called rotaries. I don’t think they are that big a deal, but I don’t spend much time behind the wheel, and, as a passenger, am oblivious to traffic, because I am on my phone, scrolling thru Instagram reels.)

We went swimming once, Laurel ran all the way into the waves even though the water was cold, and we stayed in the water for an hour. Jimmy and Heather flew kites so high in the wind, I thought they’d never come back to earth.

I made smoothies every morning, Mom made sandwiches most afternoons. Jimmy drove us to the store three times a day, to the gym, and to dinner. There was coffee brewed by the time I made it upstairs to the kitchen, and one morning my husband made popovers following my mom’s recipe. They were a bit flat, but we ate every single one so he wouldn’t feel bad, slathered with honey butter, blackberry jam, and strawberry preserves.

I took a million photographs, and I never take photographs. There are lots of duplicates, but I don’t think I’ll delete anything.

I wish we’d had more time.

I hope we do this again, and next time it’s easier. We’ll linger a little longer, together, over coffee, over dinner, in front of the news, at the beach, on the deck.

Because the week went by far too fast. I know my brother’s daughters better today than I did two weeks ago- I know Laurel is allergic to pineapple and Heather can stay up until midnight and wake at five thirty in the morning to walk to the beach so she can take a photo to send to a friend.

I know my mom says she likes to eat at five, but while on vacation, she eats lunch late, so when making dinner reservations, it’s probably a better idea to book a table for seven o’clock.

I know that my brother is one of the best people in the whole world, and definitely the most stubborn, but I didn’t need five days in St. Augustine to figure that out.

Small Moments

November 27, 2022

It is the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

It just started to rain and I’m wondering where to begin.

Our family feels different than the others I know in our town; no family members live anywhere nearby, that we speak to often, anyway. Our unit is my husband, my 22 year old son, whose been on house arrest since last October, (weed, my friends, just too much damn weed in a closet,) me, who works at a local college helping students navigate financial aid, and my daughter, 19 years old, in her first year of college in Amherst, Massachusetts, two hours from home.

I just noticed I didn’t say much about my husband; for work, he is content to drive people to the airport, walk dogs, and detail cars, he’s been a member of the gig economy before that was a thing. While I’m at work, I send him recipes almost every day in hopes that he’ll figure out he should start cooking dinner each night. Often, he’ll go to the store for the ingredients, and half the time they go bad before one of us tackles whatever dish I’d discovered on the NY Times cooking app.

When we are in the same house, an observer might think we were boarders who had been sharing the same space for a while. Colin will text Kate, her room is across the hall, his door maybe 18 inches from his door, to ask her to go downtown and pick up his dinner or to Hanover to buy a dozen over priced cookies the size of tea plates. When she said goodbye to him on her way back to school, she tossed the words over her shoulder, at my prompting, as she walked out the door. I don’t think he heard her, I think he believed she’d left hours ago. She is quiet, behind her door.

My husband watches tv in bed downstairs at night, I watch shows on my phone from the sofa in the living room.

We’ve drifted; we weren’t always this way. Christmas will be awkward; all of us standing around in the same room. Probably I’m the only one who will see it as awkward. Or maybe, Colin will be off house arrest and we’ll share dinner in the city at a noisy restaurant and things will feel normal again.

God, my life sounds grim, our life sounds grim. It’s not. My husband and I have friends, we go out to dinner. Katy loves school and invited me to have a glass of wine with her when she had friends over this weekend. Colin bought a puppy last November, and we spend a lot of time sitting around on the run in the living room, watching Chanel wriggle and roll, chase a toy or a bottle of plastic, try to hump my left leg. Actually when she does that, Colin gets disgusted and goes back upstairs. (I wonder why she finds my left leg more appealing than the right.)

Usually, the Sunday night after a holiday weekend, I’m overwhelmed by what I didn’t do and what I need to do. It’s only 5:43 pm, and all that’s left on my list is to find a clean pair of pants and pick out some shoes for tomorrow.

Tonight, things seem lovely, not even a little bit grim.

Katy asked me to get matching tatoos. I am not sure I want to get matching tatoos, or any tatoo, but if I am going to have inkspots carved into my skin, it will be because Katy asked. I was surprised; I know we’re close, but lately I’ve been feeling like she regards me as just-a-mum, who needs to tolerated and offered the ocassional compliment or cookie.

Sheldon and I cooked a Thanksgiving meal to share with our son and his friend, since Colin couldn’t join us on Thursday when we went to Salem to see Shel’s sister. We didn’t fight about dishes. We didn’t squabble about celery in the stuffing, (I gave in, I put celery in the damned stuffing, and to be honest, couldn’t tell the difference). I didn’t snap when he left the table early to watch football, or when Colin neglected to put his dish in the sink.

Sheldon always leaves the table early for football, and Colin gets his dish to the sink about twice a week. I do not know why, once or twice, this has made me so mad, I’ve broken a bowl or glass by angrily flinging them into the dishwasher. Take that, cup!

I turned up the radio and sorted out the kitchen cabinets that store the tupperwae, the chinese food takeout containers, the old yogurt cups. I threw out the things without tops, I threw out the tops without things. I rearranged our bowls, I scoured our cookie sheets that were, to be honest, disgusting. I almost snapped a photo for Instagram but images of stacked plasticware are not what I want to see when I’m scrolling.

When I went upstairs, after dinner, Colin invited me into his room. “Check this out!” On his big screen tv, we watched some divers almost get eaten by a cluster of five huge whales, feeding on sardines by leaping into the air, jaws open wide, and scooping massive mouthfuls of water, fish, and seaweed, then gulping the whole mouthful down. The narrator pointed out it was luck that one of the divers wasn’t part the dinner; someone could have easily been caught up in the maelstrom. I’m going to keep an eye out for shows like that; explorers or hunters having near death experiences, with lions or sharks or the really big bears that have been on the news so much. Colin and I used to watch television together all the time- we loved “How I Met My Mother” and when he was older, it was all “Law and Order”. Maybe we can be brought together by violent nature shows that remind us we are lucky to be alive in front of huge flat screen tv. I’ll try anything that isn’t illegal or involve staying up after ten pm to connect with my first born, Collie.

Maybe my family feels odd, or maybe everybody’s family feels odd, from the inside.

Tonight, I am a little bit closer to mine. I am insanely proud of my cabinet, the stacks of leftovers in the fridge, my lunch already tucked away in a bag where I’lll find it. It’s been a good day, and a lovely weekend.

I am thankful that I have more time with the people I love, more than anything, and more time to figure out how to get things right.

Not An Easy Sunday

November 7, 2022

Sunday mornings I start my day, sometimes in my pajamas, at 750 am. I go to the gym down the street for a 8 o’clock Pilates class. I reserve a space three days in advance; it’s popular because it’s ridiculously hard but eighty percent of the time, we’re lying down, on our backs or our bellies, so it suits the lazy, the hungover, and the people that want to look good in a bikini. The classes are never the same, but I can count on a Joni Mitchell, Taylor Swift, James Taylor, type music, on the playlist.

It is hard, it is not so hard. If I chose. I can do pushups from my knees and use light weights. I like staying low to the ground when I’m just waking up.

Today, there was someone new. The music was soft. The moves were hard; ten minutes of side planks on a Sunday? There was stretching, and then more work. It was lovely. It was different. It ended at 849 am, four minutes over.

Church is at 1030. I’d signed up to teach religious education, or Sunday School, which means I spent half the service with eight 7th graders, helping the lead teacher with the lesson of the week. I’ve been out of the loop for a while, so I didn’t know the kids or the teacher, at all.

I made friends with Leona, the artist, and Sebastian, the shy one. The lesson had an African theme, my husband volunteered to fry the plaintains, (a job assigned to me,) so I could join everyone out to the yard and watch our group play a game.

It is November in New England and this morning the temperature was over sixty degrees. There is something delicious about spinning around in the leaves and the wind on a November morning in very short sleeves.

I can’t remember the name of our activity, but it came from Africa and hiding, then finding stones, was the point. The leaves have mostly fallen, so there were breaks to hang on naked branches, examine seeed pods, and discuss whose turn was next. No one slipped on the wet grass, or broke a limb, the human or the tree kind. At the end, we lost about half the stones, and the lead teacher said that was impressive.

We all tried the fried plaintains, and I don’t think they were that good, but some of the kids liked them or were polite.

I raced home afterewards to get ready for a funeral for a friend. This was a woman I worked with a long time ago at Quincy College. I can’t sum her up in a few words. She smiled with her eyes, adored sparkly eye shadow, spoke her mind without lowering her voice, and was someone I would call a friend today, even though it’s been four years, because she was loyal and fierce and…

I will think of her often. I wish I’d seen her before she died and after Covid.

There was dinner with friends and two glasses of Chardonnay. There was a walk around the block, Sophie sniffed, and Chanel sniffed and pulled.

And now, I am home. I am thinking about church and faith. I am thinking about my kids when they were young, and if the dogs will need another walk. The windows are open, so I’m thinking about global warming. I hear Colin’s voice upstairs, I wonder if I should remind him to bring his trash down tonight; tomorrow is Monday.

I am thinking about my friend Pat- years ago, she told me my boots were too beat up to wear to work, I gave them away the next week.

I am thinking about how two weeks ago, my friend and I talked about visiting Pat at a home and how she was a little confused. Both of us knew we didn’t have the time to make the trip.

So many people were there to say goodbye today. I hope she was watching.

We toasted at her when we got our drinks, and then conversation moved on- to classes, work, flight plans, holidays, kids and conversations.

That’s the way it goes, I guess. One day isn’t ever one day, really, it’s a million tiny days sandwiched between waking up and sliding in between the sheets.

May peace be with you, Pat.

May peace be with all of you,


I don’t want to go back and read what I wrote about three weeks ago. I’m pretty sure it was a softspoken couple of lines about the impending death of my Sweetest of Dogs, Sophie, also known as Mrs. Blackburn.

Maybe, I talked about carrying her down the stairs to a final cookie party, or our trip to the pond so she could move in the water. On land, she could only stagger, or lurch, or sigh, sit, and rearrange her paws around her body to look up at me as if I had inflicted her with aging joints and rapidly advancing kidney disease.

Let’s be clear. It’s been three years since she started dying. I’ve written similar elegies. I’ve had my minister mention her name at church and more than one drink put on someone else’s tab after I spilled the sad story of Sophie the Magnificent, aka Mrs. Blackburn.

But three weeks ago, well- I’ve never had to carry her to and from the car before. I’ve never had to lift her onto the sofa, the low one, where we forcefeed her meds, my husband prying open her jaws with two hands, and me dropping the crushed up powder in, sliding in down a folded square of cardboard. I gave up all pretense of healthy dog food, gave her Sheldon’s leftover steak, with a smear of catfood on top, and a little bit of buffalo chicken for bedtime snack.

That was three weeks ago. And for those of you who know just how bad it was, I gotta tell you now-

She’s fine again.

She’s climbs up and down the stairs three times a night, because sometimes at three am, Mrs. Blackburn likes to look at the stars, take a drink from the toilet, or chase Michael the cat. She is still fussy as hell, but is starting to realize we’ve noticed she eats the healthy dog food when we’re not looking.

I sent Sheldon to the store yesterday for another case of the damn stuff, I think it’s four bucks a can. I didn’t want to send him to the store until I was sure, well, you know.

She had a fight with the neighbor’s dog this morning, which translates to when the tiny grey poodle walked by, owner following behind on the phone, Sophia the Fierce, tore out the back door to the fence, where she alternated fierce, ear splitting barks with deep throated, impressive growls.

She’s fine again, though that dog from this morning might disagree.

I was going to say, I’m looking forward to taking her for granted again, but I don’t think I will.

Winter’s close, and it’s time to stay close to those that we love.

Sophia, The Kindest Of Queens will keep us warm and safe until spring. We need her this year more than ever.